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Old Posted Mar 29, 2017, 3:31 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: West Michigan
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Construction in Portage on Pace not seen since Great Recession

There's an article from today (3/29/17) in MLive, outlining the building boom currently happening in Portage. It is incredible how much money is being invested into the area, primarily by two massive companies - Pfizer and Stryker - I calculate it to be more than $1.1 billion in development / construction-related dollars to be spend in the next five years. Some more detailed renderings of the planned $150 million+ Stryker corporate campus expansion development are included in the article, along with other construction progress photo updates. All photos from MLive, where you can also read the full article. I included a portion of the article below, but pictures first, because they're more fun.


Image: Rendering of Stryker Instruments Corporate Campus Expansion


Image: Rendering of Stryker Instruments Corporate Campus Expansion


Image: Construction progress at Trade Centre III, this will be five stories when complete (that's tall for Portage - so tall, a height variance was required!)


Image: Construction progress at Pfizer Cold-Storage Warehouse, on Portage Rd.


Image: A rendering of the finished warehouse at Pfizer.


Image: Construction progress at 3020 Old Centre Rd, on a new dental practice facility.

Also included with the article were 'before and after' aerial views of the City of Portage. The black and white image is taken in 1950, and the color image from 2015. You can see I-94 snaking along the north edge of the image in the 2015 aerial, as well as the explosive suburban growth along the S. Westnedge corridor. The Kalamazoo International Airport is top right, and Pfizer is south of that.


Image: City of Portage, 1950 Aerial


Image: City of Portage, 2015 Aerial

Quote:
Construction in Portage on Pace not seen since Great Recession
By Brad Devereaux, via MLive
March 29, 2017

PORTAGE, MI -- New construction value in Portage is on pace to outperform every other year since the Great Recession, figures for the first half of this fiscal year show. And that doesn't include some of Portage's biggest industrial projects ever, planned for the near future but still in the pre-construction phase.

After the nationwide housing market crash in 2008, the economy first showed signs of improvement in Portage's industrial sector, Community Development Director Vicki Georgeau said, followed by upticks in commercial and retail activity. In the past year, for the first time since the downturn, homes are now being built in Portage without a specific buyer in mind. "That's something we haven't seen in a long time," Georgeau said. Because of the growth, Portage officials are projecting a 5 percent increase in its property tax base, based on assessed values as of the end of 2016. The assessment roll becomes final at the end of March, she said. 

Outpacing other years

Portage police helped with traffic control when a new Chick-fil-A restaurant opened Feb. 23 off South Westnedge in Portage's main shopping district, where a dedicated lane of traffic and a route through a parking lot was set up to accommodate up to 75 cars waiting in line for fried chicken. The new restaurant is part of the $57.5 million in construction value that Portage experienced in the first six months of the fiscal year, through Dec. 31, Georgeau said.



The six-month total includes residential developments like a $6.2-million investment for 70 new apartment units at Greenspire Apartments, and commercial projects like a new $13.2-million five-story office building Trade Centre III, where steel was being erected in early March. Redeveloped properties in existing buildings also contribute to the total. It includes a new building being constructed now at 3020 Old Centre Road for Portage Pediatric Dentistry, an existing business Jody Wrathall bought in January....

Pfizer expansions

A new $40.8-million warehouse Pfizer is building now next to an existing facility on the southeast corner of Portage and Romence is tallied among construction value recorded in the first half of this fiscal year. It represents a fraction of the company's plans to spend on construction in Portage in coming years. The cold-storage warehouse will store about 150 million bulk injectable vials annually before inspection or packaging, Pfizer Kalamazoo Site Leader Bob Betzig said. Pfizer is also planning a new $105-million Act-O-Vial work center, where workers will prepare and fill the single-dose vials with injectable medications made at the Portage facility. That project is not included in the city's current fiscal year figures. Later, Pfizer plans to invest another $800 million over the next five years to improve currents infrastructure and contemporize equipment as part of its plans for the Pfizer Industrial Development District, which Portage recently approved plans for.

The planned spending is an increase compared to $900 million invested in current and new facilities over the past eight years in the city, Betzig said.
The Portage facility is the largest and most complex of Pfizer's 63 manufacturing sites worldwide, Betzig said, and supports nearly $6 billion of the company's annual revenue with a supply of nearly 100 active pharmaceutical ingredients and 50 finished pharmaceutical formulations.
"The technical scope and scale of the operations are significant and competitive in the global marketplace," he said. "Continuing to leverage that strong base for future growth in a competitive and regulated industry makes good business sense."

The W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research Impact Study shows that Pfizer's Portage site had $2.2 billion in output and total employment of 5,680 in 2016. Pfizer's new investments will maintain current jobs while adding at least 15 additional roles, Betzig said. 

Stryker to develop farm fields

Stryker Instrument's $154-million proposed investment for new construction and site improvements across Portage Road from the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport would include construction of public roads to open 288 acres of land and build a 485,000-square-foot research and development facility, according to plans submitted to the city.

Georgeau said the development will be "transformative" for Portage.
Stryker purchased the land in October from Pfizer for $8.5 million.
A customer experience center will be part of the facility, as well as a showroom, labs for research and development and bio-skills and space for sales, marketing and support functions. The building is meant to encourage collaboration and communications among product and marketing teams, Senior Director of Marketing Communications Jennifer Lentner said.

Development plans for other Stryker-owned parcels at the site are not yet defined, though city officials believe Pfizer will build more there or sell some of the land to other businesses for industrial development. A new public roadway connecting Lovers Lane to the east and Portage Road to the west is part of the plan, meant to aide in keeping commercial traffic off of the residential streets on the south side of the site. There will be support for improvements to Portage Road and Lovers Lane and improvements to I-94, she said. Enhancements to the outdoor quality of life in the area will be part of the development, with new biking and running trails and the preservation of trees and natural spaces, Lentner said. 

"This community has played a very important role in the history of our company -- our founder started the business here," Lentner said. "Southwest Michigan offers a great quality of life and cost of living, and our company and our employees are a big part of the community."

More customers traveling to the site could have a positive impact on the local economy, Lentner said, and partnerships with colleges and the K-12 educational community will remain important areas of focus. The Stryker facility will bring an estimated 105 high-quality jobs with an average annual salary of $68,000, Georgeau said, and add millions of dollars to the city's tax base.

More for Portage

Tax breaks that Portage approved for the Stryker and Pfizer projects will mean the city and others will receive less money in the short-term, but they will provide long-term tax benefits for Portage, Georgeau said. Officials also expect that some of the new employees will live and work in the city, and spend money there. Portage Mayor Peter J. Strazdas said the developments are helping improve quality of life, noting more income for people, more shopping, and more businesses expanding. With more tax dollars coming in, he said the city can make improvements and has been able to reduce its debt. It means Portage could have a millage reduction in the future, he said.
 
"The social implications of employers with good paying jobs, it's something you really can't measure, but you know it will make Portage a better community," he said.

He acknowledged there's always problems with growth, but thinks of them more as challenges in Portage. As cities grow, residents sometimes see more socioeconomic issues and issues with crime, traffic and infrastructure, he said. 

"It's not all rosy, as you grow you have growing challenges," he said. "It has great opportunities such as increases in income but it comes with more expenses."

Shannan Garman, former general manager of The Crossroads mall through March 17, said new jobs coming to the area will be a boon for retailers including the 99 stores at the mall. She noted the Stryker and Pfizer developments among other strengths of the region's market like its expanding brewing industry, and the 2013 addition of the Kalamazoo Growlers baseball team.

"We're always excited for the successes of businesses and people within this market, and we're certainly looking forward to welcoming the employees of Pfizer and Stryker to the mall," she said, noting the possible synergy between businesses as more development happens.

The projected tax base increase of 5 percent compares to negative growth or flat growth in other recent years, Georgeau said. 
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